As the NBA season tips off, the excitement in the basketball world is palpable, and the world of basketball card collecting is no exception. The beginning of the season is a prime time for collectors to get their hands on the hottest NBA cards. Let's take a closer look at some of the most sought-after basketball cards as the new NBA season gets underway.
The Year of Wemby
This year, it's all about France's 7'-4" phenom Victor Wembanyama. The Spur's power forward is easily the most hyped prospect since LeBron James. As Panini is typically slow to release new NBA product, there are not many card options to choose from--at least nothing yet with a RC emblem on it. Right now, the only options we have are his Sports Illustrated for Kids, Bowman Inception, Bowman U, Bowman Chrome and Topps Now cards.
Wemby's first card in a Spurs jersey will most likely come early January 2024 with Panini's traditional first release, 2023-24 NBA Hoops. Resale value on hobby and retail boxes for this release are expected to be much higher than any other year in recent history, including the mega-hyped 2019-20 draft class (Ja Morant, Zion Williamson). Assuming he stays healthy, Wemby's first rookie card will sky rocket right out of the gate. Think $50-$100 for his first base rookie card. As more product comes out, expect that number to take a steep drop.
One important thing to note: Wemby is signed on exclusively with Fanatics and will not have any autos in any Panini releases. However, all parallels and serial numbered cards are still in play.
Other Rookies To Watch
We're keeping an eye on Brandon Miller, Dereck Lively, Scoot Henderson, the Thompson twins and Chet Holmgren. Wait, wasn't Chet a rookie last year? Yes, but he was injured before the start of last season and is now eligible to win NBA Rookie of the Year (think Ben Simmons). All of these rookies will have up and down stretches, but those who are the most consistent and can contribute to their team making it to the Playoffs will definitely see their card values rise. If we had to choose a Rookie of the Year not named Wembanyama, we'd go with Chet.
The established superstars of the NBA are always in high demand. Cards of players like LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Giannis Antetokounmpo continue to be top picks for collectors. These cards represent some of the most iconic and valuable basketball card investments and typically hold their value better than lesser stars. Lebron is in his 21st year and continues to break record after record. We're intrigued with what Damian Lillard brings to the Bucks. If he and Giannis can co-exist as 1A and 1B on the team, they could make a deep playoff push if not a trip to the Finals. Lillard has never been a collector's darling, but perhaps this move to a playoff-bound team will change all that.
Expectations for Basketball Cards in the 2023-24 NBA Season
We will see a lull in card activity to begin the NBA season simply because licensed product will not be released until January. Then we will have Hoops, Donruss, Optic, Contenders and a host of new releases by summertime. The biggest release of the year will undoubtedly be 2023-24 Prizm set for a release date of Feb 7, 2024. It truly has the potential to be the biggest NBA release ever.